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Museum of London to get 'fashionable' overhaul

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An architectural competition is to be launched in the ec Journal in the next month for a major remodelling of the Museum of London. Director Simon Thurley, who took over the museum last year, said, 'The building will be carefully restored and developed to make it fashionable again.'

He said that the museum had been in discussions with a private-sector partner over the possibility of an entire redevelopment of the site but 'the offers were not the answer to our problems'. Instead, a series of feasibility studies by architect Levitt Bernstein, which did a similar exercise in 1990, have shown that 'the museum can work even better for the next 25 years,' said Thurley.

Designed by Powell and Moya and opened in December 1976, the building, which is on the edge of the Barbican development, initially received a mixed press. It is, said Thurley, easy to navigate, high-ceilinged and flexible, but its weaknesses include the lack of a bold entrance, exacerbated by the scale of subsequent buildings. Thurley said Levitt Bernstein had found a way to provide the museum with 'a swanky new entrance'.

A proposal by Ian Ritchie under the previous administration for an entrance tower and new galleries was, said Thurley, 'as dead as a dodo'. And he did not plan to be like the v&a, coming up with the design first and then searching for the money. 'We have a couple of deals on the table we are trying to work through and pull off,' he said, refusing to comment on the cost of the redevelopment.

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